Organ Bill Struck

Yesterday’s piece on The Virginia Conservative regarding some rather curious potential changes in the organ donation process in the state of Virginia (HB 154) generated considerable amounts of confusion and anger.  I appreciated the opportunity to speak with Delegate Dickie Bell about this piece of legislation in addition to correcting an error I made in my article.

Picture from Delegate Bell's Facebook page
Picture from Delegate Bell’s Facebook page

This morning, as already reported by Bearing Drift, I have received a message from Delegate Bell stating, “HB154 has created a great deal of controversy and that was never my intention. I assure you that the bill will not go forward and I will strike it officially as soon as that is possible. Be advised that it may still show up until officially taken down in the process. My apologies for the confusion. I accept full responsibility.“.  Although I understand the need to spread awareness about organ donation, many of us were concerned that this bill would create many harmful consequences.

I thank Delegate Bell for his continued efforts on behalf of the citizens of the Shenandoah Valley as well as his decision to not promote this bill in next year’s General Assembly session.

In liberty!

Your Organs Belong…to Virginia?

In just a few short weeks, Virginia’s part-time legislature, the General Assembly, shall convene again in Richmond.  As such, news of proposed bills have been popping up all across the internet.  Today, a fellow constitutionally conservative activist named Sandy brought a potentially troubling piece of legislation to my attention.

HB 154 Presumed consent for organ donation doesn’t sound particularly liberty friendly, does it?  According to the summary as introduced, this bill “establishes a system of presumed consent for organ donation in the Commonwealth.”

The full text of the bill is available here.  Note this particular line with the italicized text replacing the crossed present law.  “inform the family of each potential donor of the option to donate organs, tissues, or eyes or to decline to donate (a) identify individuals who have registered a refusal to make an anatomical gift and revocation of presumed consent to an anatomical gift and (b) inform the family of individuals who have not filed a refusal to make an anatomical gift and revocation of presumed consent to an anatomical gift about the organ donation process. ”

And perhaps the most distressing part of the bill:

Ҥ 32.1-291.3:1. Presumption of anatomical gift.

Every resident of Virginia shall be presumed to have made an anatomical gift of his whole body, unless the individual has refused to make an anatomical gift pursuant to § 32.1-291.3:2. Such anatomical gift shall become effective upon the individual’s death without the need to obtain the consent of any survivor.”

From Delegate Bell's Facebook page
From Delegate Bell’s Facebook page

This piece of legislation is offered by Delegate Dickie Bell of Staunton.  Even though typically a fine legislator (with particularly excellent taste in facial hair), every so often he offers a bill (such as increasing state surveillance of the sale of precious metals) that causes advocates of limited government to cringe.  Edit:  Del. Bell has not sponsored a bill making failure to use seat belts a primary offense.  However, as reported by the Daily News Record, “a few years ago Bell said it was likely he would have considered mandatory seat belt laws a government intrusion.  But he now would probably support a mandatory seat belt law, citing numerous safety studies on their use.” Mellott, J. (2010, Feb. 8) Collision Course With Safety? Daily News Record.

Although organ donation is a fine option that helps improve or save the lives of a multitude of individuals, it should, like most parts of life, remain a choice.  To somehow presuppose that the Virginia government has first dibs on its citizens’ organs unless they specifically state otherwise is, quite frankly, terrifying.  Does Virginia somehow own its citizens’ bodies?  In this state are they merely on lease to the individual as long as he or she remains alive?  I hope the answer to these two questions is a definitive no!

Organ donation ought to remain an opt-in decision rather than allowing the state to simply assume consent  and control of our bodies unless stated otherwise.  For this reason, it is my hope that HB 154 does not pass.

The Flap Over Duck Dynasty

Photo from A&E
Photo from A&E

Lately, a lot of people I know seem to be upset about A&E and their show Duck Dynasty.  Unless you’ve been avoiding the news, the network A&E decided to suspend Phil Robertson from the program after he offered a few opinions about homosexuality.  Now, in full disclosure, I don’t watch Duck Dynasty or any other show on A&E for that matter.

Some of my friends on the right have been quick to declare that A&E is violating Mr. Robertson’s first amendment rights.  However, such a viewpoint demonstrates an ignorance of the constitution.  After all, the first amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.”  Note that it makes no mention of private companies or individuals to exercise their discretion.  Legally, Phil Robertson is perfectly within his rights to express his opinions, however A&E is perfectly within their rights to remove him from their network should he say something which they feel is detrimental.  A major media source is not required to allow any or all opinions, nor should they be forced to do so.  If Mr. Robertson wishes to create a program showcasing his political beliefs, I assume he will be able to find a network to accommodate him.

About the same time as the Duck Dynasty flap, the Senate re-authorized what are a lot of unconstitutional provisions regarding domestic spying, indefinite detention, and privacy through the NDAA, our government killed 14 people in a wedding party in Yemen, and our debt and spending are still out of control.

What I want to know is why is it that so many people are up in arms about the actions of a TV network while the government continues to expand its power.  Isn’t the threat to our liberty far more pressing than a perceived culture war?  Why is it so important whether you are greeted with a “merry Christmas” or a “happy holidays” if we remain silent when it comes to freedom and privacy, tacitly allowing our government to read our emails without a warrant or imprison anyone without a trial?  Aren’t these actions a far great threat to our first amendment rights?

Getting back to the main issue, if you agree or disagree with A&E’s decision regarding Duck Dynasty and Mr. Robertson, I would suggest writing the network to let them know.  Watch their program, buy their merchandise, or boycott them, that is your decision.  Given there are rumors of Phil Robertson’s return in 2014, could it be that this whole controversy is nothing more than a ratings stunt?  If Robertson returns to the show or is permanently removed doesn’t matter too much to me, as I don’t have any interest in the subject matter of the program.  Either way, please just don’t let this relatively minor issue obscure the much larger problems facing our nation.

Campaign for Liberty…or Cash?

Upon the conclusion of the 2008 Ron Paul presidential campaign, many of us within the liberty movement sought to continue the fight through various organizations, parties, and campaigns.  One organization that emerged, started by Ron Paul himself, was Campaign for Liberty.

Over the years, Campaign for Liberty has done a lot of good, working to educate the citizenry about a number of important issues including auditing the Federal Reserve; they also created LPAC, the Liberty Political Action Conference.  However, in recent times it seems as if the power, influence, and direction of C4L isn’t what it used to be.

For about the last six months, I have been bombarded by emails from this organization.  Each of them include the same pitch, asking for money.  Although I am well aware that groups depend on donations to survive, the frequency with which C4L sends them is quite over the top.  As a result, from time to time I have sent emails to the group regarding this issue.  Each has gone unanswered.

This week, I have received the same email on three separate days, each, once again, making a pitch for money.  In response, although I have been on their email list for over four years, I unsubscribed.  In addition, I sent them another message which, if treated like my previous communication, will have no response.

Good afternoon.

Today, I received a version of the same email from C4L that I have gotten these past two days. This is an email from Dr. Paul, my former boss.  I must confess that over these last several months I have grown deeply disappointed with C4L as it seems to me that you all ask for money again and again without really showing any tangible results…other than sending out requests for more money.  With all due respect, I don’t really know what it is you all do these days; I wish you all were more focused on grassroots activism, educating citizens and pushing them to get more involved in the political process to promote liberty.  In my part of the country, I have seen or heard nothing that C4L has been doing in the western part of Virginia since 2011.

Although I have been subscribed to C4L’s email list since October of 2009, today I am unsubscribing.  I thought you should know why I am doing so.

Let us continue to advance liberty.

Best wishes.

Sincerely,

Joshua Huffman

Former Grassroots Director for South Carolina

2008 Ron Paul Presidential Campaign

Although I support the ideals of liberty as strongly as I have since my days working for Dr. Paul, we do have to realize that our time and resources are fixed and ought to be wisely allocated to groups that will use the judiciously.  I sincerely hope that Campaign for Liberty finds its place as a strong bulwark for liberty once more, but if all they seem to do is ask for cash day after day without tangible results, what is the point?

The Tea Party & The GOP

Earlier today, I received a phone call from WHSV TV-3.  The station sought the opinions of the tea party regarding the Paul Ryan budget, Speaker Boehner’s negative comments about organization, and the future between the Republican Party and the tea party movement.

Although my views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party, I was happy to offer them this afternoon.

The simple fact, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, is that the Republican Party is searching for a identity and there is a faction within it which is relatively unconcerned with political principle when weighed against political power.  As such, although they will embrace groups like the tea party when it serves their purposes, they will happily jettison these people after the politicians abandon their supposedly shared values.  I believe that Speaker Boehner is one such “flexible” individual which is why I wrote Representative Bob Goodlatte earlier this year (unsuccessfully I might add) urging him to vote against retaining Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

An equally important matter one should ponder is, what path should the tea party take?  Should it be in lockstep with the Republican Party, shun it completely, or perhaps something else entirely?

Anyway, you can find this brief clip on WHSV by clicking on the following link.

The Brewing War

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the possibility of a civil war within the Republican Party.  Right now there seems to be a considerable disconnect between grassroots activists and legislators, between those advocating fiscal responsibility and those who spend and increase the debt without much regard, between those who promote enhanced civil liberties and those who wish to clamp down upon them.  These aren’t fights across partisan divides, but rather conflicts inside the GOP itself.

Although some may lament this feud, I say bring it on!

For limited government, liberty-minded, constitutional conservatives like me, the Republican Party has provided ample disappointment for years.  Raising the debt ceiling again and again with no hope of paying it off?  Check!  Expanding federal control of health care (Medicare Part D) and education (No Child Left Behind)? Check and check!  Eroding freedom of the internet through acts like SOPA and CISPA?  Check!  Unneeded  and irresponsible meddling of the federal government in airport security through the TSA?  Check!  The horrible consequences to our civil liberties and the liberties of foreigners as a result of the so-called ‘Patriot Act’?  Check!  A legacy of war and massive foreign interventionism?  Check! And friends, the list goes on.

Here in my home state of Virginia, the Republican Party controlled both houses of the General Assembly and the governorship in 2013.  As a result, did we see our state government take a strong stand for the 10th Amendment against the encroachment of the federal government?  Not really.  They more or less rolled over to Obamacare.  However, we did get a transportation tax increase which has been billed as the largest tax increase in Virginia history.  All this with Republicans in charge!

Is there any wonder why Republicans continue to lose nationwide and got trounced statewide in the 2013 elections in Virginia?  When both parties advocate big government why should voters choose the Republican Party over the Democratic?  The answer is, they shouldn’t.  Voters don’t trust the GOP any more…and for good reason.

So what does the GOP stand for these days, if anything?  I asked this question last year and I still have no answer.  Here in Virginia we have a Republican Party creed, but good luck finding leadership in the General Assembly or Congress who actually adheres to it.  Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t principled Republican legislators in either Richmond or Washington, because there are, but they are often marginalized or go along with the party mentality to promote the least principled legislators as their leaders and the speaker.

Activists are tired of holding their noses to vote for big government.  They are tired of being reminded to support party unity while their principles get trampled upon year after year.  They are tired of conservatives and libertarians being ignored or abandoned by the leadership, especially during the election season.

So yes, I say the GOP Civil War is long overdue.  Its time to stand up for your supposed values or else go the way of the Whigs.

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode VI)

Today, on 550 AM WSVA, Andy Schmookler and I recorded our 6th radio show along with Middays host Jim Britt.  The topics discussed included: the selection of Pope Francis as Time magazine’s Person of the Year, Republican grumblings over the proposed budget deal, and thoughts regarding Terry McAuliffe as Virginia’s next governor.

If you missed the show or would like it hear it again, you can find it here.

Thanks for listening!

Reflections of a Virginia Conservative

Typically, politics is a rather dull affair in Virginia during the month of December.  The elections have concluded, activists and volunteers enjoy a bit of a respite, and thoughts slowly turn to the General Assembly session which will be beginning in January.

I’d like to take the lull to announce the completion of a project that I started back in February.  On and off for the last nine months, I have been writing a book detailing my experiences and thoughts during my many years in the realm of politics.  The amazing highs, the soul-crushing lows, the politicians, the activists, friendships formed, the animosity, this book covers all of these topics.   As I wrote to literary agents, “beginning as a teenage quest, as a young man I relentlessly searched for identity, purpose, understanding, and companionship among my fellow activists and pundits.  This work honestly and openly explores a myriad of famous (and not so famous) figures such as Ron Paul, George W. Bush, and George Allen, and events like the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  It also examines my personal shifts in ideology…and unmasks the motivations that first propelled me into this turbulent world and those which have compelled me to remain almost two decades later.”

After a bit of recent discussion in Newport News, this project is quickly approaching publication.  I am told that only two major hurdles remain: professional editing and securing a sufficient level of interest and sales.  Once those obstacles have been overcome, you will be able to find this book, Reflections of a Virginia Conservative, at Barnes and Noble!

Therefore, at the start of 2014 I am planning a kickstarter campaign to presell copies of this book.  I’ll provide more details and a link soon!

The Virginia Conservative’s New Home

Untitled 2Greetings readers.

Many of you may have noticed that recently this blog has migrated from my long-time home on wordpress to this new site (which looks surprisingly similar to the old).  I’ve printed new business cards and everything.  So, this evening I’d like to welcome to my grand opening!  You should continue to expect the same quality of news and commentary that you’ve come to know these last five and a half years.

So why the switch, you might ask?  Well, there are three reasons.

First, I like the idea of owning my own site rather than using a wordpress domain.

Second, given the length, it is a little easier to tell people that my site is virginiaconservative.net rather than virginiaconservative.wordpress.com.  Non-bloggers often forget about the wordpress bit.

Third, by transferring my blog to my own site, I am allowed to now run ads.  Although I don’t intend to be one of those sites who offers more ad space than content, doing this might put a few nickels in my pocket (I prefer dimes to nickels, but we’ll see what comes).  You can find one spot in the index column on the right.  One more may pop up in the future.

If you may recall, back in October I wrote discovering one of my pictures on an MSNBC segment without either attribution or permission from me.  I was told that they wouldn’t do anything about this issue, but I’m not a person who gives up easily.  After a bit of legal wrangling, they sent me a check.  I thought it fitting to use this money to invest in my writing, finally buying my own site.

You might be asking, why didn’t I choose virginiaconservative.com as opposed to .net?

Well, I certainly would have preferred .com as such an address is much easier to remember.  However, while virginiaconservative.net costs about $20, virginiaconservative.com costs almost $4000!  NBC wasn’t nearly that generous and I certainly can’t afford to spend that kind of money out of my own pocket at this point.

Switching subjects a little, as I’ve done in the past, I’d like to offer the chance for guest posts again.  So if you have some burning opinion or report that you’d like the world to hear about, please let me know and I’ll see if we can’t get it up on the site.

Anyway, I hope that you will enjoy this new site.  The Virginia Conservative marches on!

Goodlatte in 1992

GoodlatteThroughout my entire involvement in politics (1994 to the present day), there has always been one constant in Shenandoah Valley politics, Bob Goodlatte serving in the House of Representatives.  First elected over twenty years ago, Goodlatte has been re-elected ten times and, in many cases, unopposed.

On Sunday, I received a piece of campaign literature from Bob Goodlatte’s first campaign in 1992.  Rather than commenting too much on it, I’d rather just share it with you.  However, here are a couple of points of note:

1. He uses the slogan, “Republican leadership…for a change”.  Whether intentionally tying back to 1992 or not, Andy Schmookler’s campaign (his 2012 Democratic opponent) used the slogan “Truth…for a change”.

2. In 1992, Bob Goodlatte promoted the idea of a balanced budget amendment.  Although it hasn’t come to pass some twenty years later, it is still an important issue to him.

3. When it comes to foreign policy and national defense, it seems that this literature might be promoting a neo-conservative agenda.

4. Although many of Goodlatte’s 1992 supporters have disappeared from the political scene over the years, some are still active such as: Mark Obenshain who is now a Virginia State Senator, Morgan Griffith who now represents the 9th district for Virginia in the House of Representatives, long-time activist Trixie Averill, and Billy Kyger and Pablo Cuevas who both still serve on the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors.

Special thanks to Amanda for the campaign literature.